Shortstop Jed Lowrie will be activated from the disabled list and make his Astros debut. Lowrie, who sprained his right thumb on March 28 while playing against the Marlins in Spring Training, went 1-for-3 with two RBIs in a rehab game on Tuesday at Triple-A Oklahoma City and went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI on Wednesday.
Acquired from the Red Sox along with pitcher Kyle Weiland from over the offseason in a deal for reliever Mark Melancon -- general manager Jeff Luhnow's first trade -- Lowrie was having a nice spring before the injury. The switch-hitter batted .333 with a 1.040 OPS in 14 Spring Training games, but was forced to start the season on the DL.
"If everything goes well like we're expecting and hoping, he should be with us for the trip to Miami," Houston manager Brad Mills said Wednesday. "We're talking about a guy who did such a good job for us in spring, and when we did insert him into the second spot in the lineup in spring, he fit so well. ... He'll help this ballclub get better."
In the series opener, the Astros face Nolasco, who began his 2012 campaign with a strong eight-inning performance Saturday night against the Reds. Nolasco allowed three runs on six hits, striking out five, pounding the strike zone and relying on his infielders to take care anything hit their way.
"I just tip my cap to the infield and the defense all around," said Nolasco, whose record of 65-51 has him three wins away from matching Dontrelle Willis' franchise record. "Jose [Reyes] made tons of plays in that hole there. I was throwing that sinker a ton to those guys, and they kept rolling them in that hole, and he made great plays."
The win put Nolasco three victories away from matching Dontrelle Willis' franchise record of 68 wins.
"It would mean a lot. I've been here a while, and it would be nice to be at the top of that list," Nolasco said. "Just to know that, 'Hey, I'm here and I've won games.' It would be nice to stand at the top of that."
Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell is coming off a strong season debut of his own, having thrown seven scoreless innings with four strikeouts in a 7-3 win over the Rockies in Houston on Saturday.
The 26-year-old had never thrown seven innings in a Major League game, and he did so Saturday with a fairly low pitch count of 93 with no walks and inducing plenty of weak contact that resulted in 13 ground-ball outs compared to two flyouts. He will look to repeat that formula Friday against Miami.
"I'm not a guy that's going to strike out a lot of guys, and if I walk guys, I'll get in a lot of trouble," Harrell said Saturday. "I felt like ... getting a lot of early contact and getting ground balls was the key."
Astros: Martinez continues hot start with homer
J.D. Martinez has kicked off the season with a six-game hitting streak, the only Astros player to hit safely in all six games. His first hit Wednesday night was also his second homer of the season.
Jordan Schafer (2-for-4 on Wednesday) and Chris Johnson (2-for-4) have also hit safely in their last five games. And Carlos Lee is off to a nice start as well, an unusual turn for the habitual slow starter.
"Before I left Spring Training, I was feeling pretty good," said Lee, who hit .183 in April 2010 and .194 in April 2011. "I've kind of figured out a good batting stance and it's helping a lot."
After committing four errors on Opening Day, the Astros went four games without an error, then made four in Wednesday night's loss.
Marlins: Morrison likely to sit Friday
Miami is expected to give Logan Morrison the day off Friday. The team is closely regulating Morrison's playing time after the left fielder had surgery on his right knee in early December.
If he indeed is off Friday, it will mark the third time he's sat the day after the team has traveled.
The Astros' first road trip of the season will take them through Miami for three games and Washington for four.
The Marlins settle in for their first homestand at their new ballpark in Little Havana. They hosted the season-opening game against the Cardinals on April 4, then hit the road for a six-game swing. Miami will host the Cubs for three games following the Astros series.